On Wednesday, the citation for excellence was presented to volunteers of each branch of emergency services in Jerusalem. In the field of EMS, the award was presented to Miriam and Dr. Adam Ballin for their dedication and devotion as United Hatzalah volunteers together with two other volunteer responders, twin brothers Eliezer and Shlomo Brandmark.
United Hatzalah recipients of Citation of Excellence from Jerusalem’s Mayor
Miriam and Adam Ballin began their work in the field of EMS while they were still living in Australia. Miriam was a dispatcher and Adam volunteered as a local first responder. They responded to serious cases and worked together as much as possible to save lives. “In the organization we were involved with, which was religious in nature, women weren’t allowed to answer calls in the field,” said Miriam. “It bothered me that when Adam went out to a serious call I was not able to be there with him, aside from being on the other side of the phone line.” Five years ago they immigrated to Israel and continued their work with United Hatzalah, an organization that allows people of all walks of life in Israel to volunteer in its ranks. Miriam, who is a fully registered EMT, was finally able to join her husband, a doctor when he responded to calls in the field. But she didn’t stop there.
Together with Rickie Rabinowitz and Avi Steinherz, Miriam spearheaded the founding and development of The Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit. The unit is currently comprised of 150 volunteers nationwide who provide support and stabilization for victims, family members, and bystanders at incidents of severe emotional trauma.
“We have responded to some pretty trying and serious calls together,” said Miriam. “In those instances, we realized the importance of supporting each other.” A few examples of such incidents include when the couple responded to the Armon Hanatziv terror attack in January 2017, or when they found and treated their neighbor who had collapsed at a concert at the Jerusalem Convention Center in April.
The couple, who are in their thirties, in addition to having full-time jobs and volunteering as EMS responders, are raising five children under the age of seven.
Adam, after responding to an emergency call while attending a friend’s wedding in March spoke about what volunteering means to the couple. “For us, the old saying “in the right place at the right time”, is actually more about being “in the wrong place at the right time”. When things go wrong, that’s when we come in. Even if we have to leave the “right place”, like a friend’s wedding, we go to the “wrong place”, where a child is suffering, and we do what we can to save a life. In our line of work that really is the “right place” – with the patients.”
Helping both emotional trauma patients and physical trauma patients is something that has turned from a passion to a vocation for both Miriam and Adam. Having responded to terror attacks, trauma cases, and even delivering babies, sometimes of their own neighbors, both Miriam and Adam serve as a shining example of true EMS heroes in Jerusalem.
The Brandmark twins are both ambucycle drivers and live in the Givat Hatachmoshet neighborhood of Jerusalem. They manage a VIP tour company. They respond to dozens of calls each month on their own time and have been volunteering for over seven years.
On Wednesday, the four responders were honored by the city and presented with the citation of excellence by the Mayor of Jerusalem himself, Mr. Nir Barkat.